Jan. 12, 2005
The unpredictable nature of college basketball is one thing that makes the sport so exciting. Recently, there have been upsets galore. Top 25 teams have been falling by the wayside.
For instance, try to figure out the Pac-10 this season. Just look at some of the things that happened last week.
Stanford was 0-3 in conference play (6-7 overall) entering its game Saturday with Arizona, which came in 2-0 in the Pac-10 (12-2 overall) and highly ranked.
But coach Lute Olson's Wildcats saw their nine-game winning streak snapped as Dan Grunfeld -- the son of Ernie Grunfeld from Tennessee's Bernie and Ernie fame -- scored a career-high 29 points. Coach Trent Johnson and Stanford were coming off a double-figure loss to Arizona State.
Backcourt play was a key. Grunfeld and Chris Hernandez, returning from back spasms, combined to hit 17-of-24 field goals, combining to score 52 of Stanford's 87 points. The Arizona tandem of Mustafa Shakur and Salim Stoudamire hit just 6-of-18 shots and totaled 22 points.
Washington, also ranked and riding a nine-game winning streak, built up a 21-point lead at UCLA. But the Bruins came back, cutting the deficit to 10 points at halftime before posting a stunning 95-86 victory.
The Huskies haven't won at Pauley Pavilion since 1987. This seemed like the opportunity, especially up 21 points. Give UCLA coach Ben Howland credit -- his kids never gave up, and a win like that can certainly build confidence. Senior Dijon Thompson scored 29 points for the Bruins.
The Bruins are becoming the comeback kids. They rallied to knock off Washington State in double overtime two days before stunning the Huskies.
Ike Diogu has been one of the premier players in America in the first half of the season.
Then there's Arizona State. The Sun Devils swept the Bay Area double, knocking off Stanford and California on the road for the first time since 1985. Arizona State had lost 13 straight to the Cardinal before winning at Maples.
Junior forward Ike Diogu has been one of the premier players in America in the first half of the season. He totaled 53 points and 22 boards in the two wins. Coach Rob Evans' squad is off to a great start; the Sun Devils have made the NCAA Tournament just once since 1996 (in 2003 under Evans).
Washington State bounced back from its heartbreaking loss to UCLA with a convincing 69-52 win at USC.
How wild is the Pac-10? We're not even in the second week of January and every team has lost at least one league game already. Washington and Arizona still seem like the cream of the crop, but anything can happen in the wild, wild West, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.